For the most part, UFC Fight Night 29 was an extremely enjoyable card. There were competitive clashes, some fantastic finishes, and the energy-level fans have come to expect when events unfold in Brazil. Some bullet points: A T.J. Dillashaw-Raphael Assuncao rematch would be a welcome sight in 2014; Igor Araujo’s emotional win was a beautiful thing; Thiago Silva keeps finding new ways to disappoint even in victory; Erick Silva can’t catch a break; Dong Hyun Kim is a joy to watch; Jake Shields and Demian Maia could both end up released a year from now if they can’t win with consistency based on the less-than aesthetically pleasing approach both take in the cage.
Let me go on record as saying I disagree with Palhares’ lifetime ban from the Octagon. I also have a minor problem with the pink-slip he received. Though the decision to hold on to his submission of Mike Pierce was inexcusable, I’m a firm believer in progressive discipline and would have preferred to see a lengthy suspension/hefty fine than a full-on axing. Also, stating he’ll never have another chance to compete on the sport’s biggest stage is especially harsh when he undoubtedly learned his lesson from the enormous amount of negativity his performance produced. If Palhares ever repeats his actions against another adversary, it’s a different story, but otherwise the world’s top fighters need to be in the UFC and “Toquinho” is definitely part of that group.
TriStar guru Firas Zahabi recently mentioned his star pupil, UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, might retire after a November title-defense against Johny Hendricks based on a lack of motivation. If Hendricks beats him, expect GSP’s fire to start burning brightly again. If “Rush” emerges with his hand raised, it may be possible he could call it quits but such a scenario is extremely doubtful. St-Pierre makes millions on every fight, not to mention the sponsorship money and other opportunities created by his career. More than anything, Zahabi’s comments can be chalked up to one of the numerous strange assessments he’s offered up on St-Pierre in the past such as discussing a possible dip down to 155 pounds being a superior option for GSP compared to a run at middleweight.
It looks like welterweights Ellenberger and Saffiedine are scheduled for a showdown in Singapore on January 4 at UFC Fight Night 34. The bout is an acceptable one, though Saffiedine deserves a bit better. Ellenberger is unquestionably talented and a threat to most he faces, but Saffiedine is the last man to hold Strikeforce gold at 170 pounds and also happens to be on a four-fight winning streak. As such, “Sponge” should be locking horns with a legitimate contender (or at least someone who isn’t coming off a one-sided decision defeat).
The former UFC title-contender ending up in WSOF is no surprise. Other than Bellator, it was the most logical landing spot, and contractually it seemed to be the better option if Okami’s aim was to make one more run in the Octagon after stringing together a few wins. It keeps him out of tournaments, i.e. three fights in three months, and should free him up to re-sign if he puts together 2-3 triumphs under WSOF’s banner. Expect him to dominate a few mid-tier opponents and maybe land a super-fight at 205 pounds against someone like Anthony Johnson.
The MMA world got great news this week when it was reported the UFC heavyweight was back in the gym working with mitts. Previously Struve had been on the shelf due to a heart condition potentially threatening his career. While it’s only a small step, Struve’s increased activity is still extremely positive and shows he’s possibly on the road to recovery. More importantly, it’s a good sign in terms of his long-term health regardless of any future inside the Octagon.
Former UFC heavyweight champ Dos Santos is known for his boxing and knockout power. In fact, he’s viewed as being amongst the best in both departments as far as fighters on the organization’s roster. However, “Cigano” recently claimed he could beat two men with PhD’s in the sweet science, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. The Russian brothers are among boxing’s all-time greats and have laid claim to plenty of gold in their respective careers. Frankly, Dos Santos must have been chugging a little too much Acai juice if he honestly thinks he could hang with either on the boxing front. He was out-struck by Cain Velasquez at times in their most recently rumble and that’s a guy whose background is in wrestling. Sure, Dos Santos could go for broke and land a fight-ending blow, but chances are good he’d never get close enough to unleash that sort of damage.
Stockton’s favorite son’s name was back in the headlines this week after teammate/friend Gilbert Melendez expressed belief Diaz would return to the ring from semi-retirement if enticed with the right match-up. With middleweight as a possibility, Diaz already has a suitor in Michael Bisping who quickly went on record as stating he’d love to fight the former Strikeforce champ. UFC President Dana White has also signed off on the notion, making fans wonder if there could be more to the story than just rumors. Personally, I love the pairing from a stylistic standpoint. “The Count” loves to strike, so Diaz might finally get the type of stand-up scrap he loves, plus Bisping’s ability to sell a showdown with trash-talk could deliver some epic moments during the build up to their bout.
You may not know the name but chances are you know the promotion Meyer headed, Tuff-N-Uff. The organization gave opportunities to a ton of up-and-coming talent including Jon Fitch and Ronda Rousey. Meyer’s fingerprints were all over the regional scene and hundreds of people in the MMA community were affected on a personal level by his loss. Apparently, Meyer battled depression and took his own life. My sincere condolences go out to his friends and family. Stepping away from the cage for a second, if you have ever had suicidal thoughts, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
UFC 166 can’t boast the deepest lineup in company history but the show does feature a pool of talent even the boldest swimmer would need floaties for. Undercard bouts of note include Sarah Kaufman-Jessica Eye, Tim Boetsch-C.B. Dolloway, K.J. Noons-George Sotiropoulos, and Hector Lombard-Nate Marquardt. The main card is equally stacked with fights like Roy Nelson-Daniel Cormier, Diego Sanchez-Gilbert Melendez, and (of course) Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos. It’s a “must see” event and well worth the purchase as far as PPV goes when you factor in all the free flavor.
Wednesday has rolled around again and, as expected, the 10-Point Must is back! Every week I’ll give my thoughts on ten topics from the past seven days with hopes the readership will contribute their takes as well in the Comments section. This time around, subjects range from the possibility of a bout between
Nick Diaz-Michael Bisping to contemplating retirement after his next fight to a quick glimpse at Saturday night’s lineup for Georges St-Pierre . (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC 166